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I cook a lot - so it takes a truly extraordinary recipe for my husband to remember it and request them by name. Chocolate Lava Cookies are his favorite for many reasons. Just a hint of coffee flavor in a vanilla infused crispy yet also soft chocolate chip cookie. The recipe is a little time intensive - but is purposely built to just make a dozen cookies. Ingredients for Cookies • 1/3 cup salted butter • 1/3 cup light brown sugar packed • 3 tablespoons white sugar • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract • 1 large egg yolk • 3/4 cup white all-purpose flour NOT packed into the measuring cup • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda • 1/3 cup high quality milk-chocolate chunks or chips Ingredients for the Ganache • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into 3/4 -inch pieces • 1 cup heavy cream • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder • 1 1/2 tablespoons Kahlúa Instructions for Ganache Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until bubbles appear around the edge; remove from the heat. Add the espresso powder and stir to dissolve. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand for 1 minute. Stir the chocolate until melted and smooth. Stir in the Kahlúa. For easier spooning in this recipe don't let it cool to firm - I find that by the time I have the cookies made it needs stirring to be spoonable into the cookies Instructions for Cookies 1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, partially melt the butter in the microwave. (Just enough that you'll be able to easily mix it) 2. With a spoon or a whisk, whisk in the brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla extract (scale down or up to taste preference - I like a strong vanilla flavor) into the bowl of the butter. 3. Stir until completely smooth and then stir in the egg yolk. (The more yellow the yolk, the more flavor your cookies will have. Organic eggs are generally larger and more yellow which is what I used). 4. Measure the flour carefully making sure not to pack in the flour. 5. Stir in the flour and baking soda and mix well. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl. (If not, add a bit more flour until a good dough is formed). 6. Stir in the chocolate chips. Knead the chips into the dough. 7. Place the dough in an airtight container and in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour and preferably overnight (overnight will yield a greater flavor as the ingredients meld together). 8. When ready to bake, set the oven temperature at 350 degrees. 9. Roll a dozen balls of dough that are even (If you have a food scale, I get the best results from cookies that are 1.3 ounces.) 11. Using a nonstick cupcake tin - press one cookie's worth of dough into the bottom of each cupcake holder. Then spoon on top of the cookie, 1 rounded tablespoon of the ganache, then top the ganache with another cookie's worth of dough. Don't try to press it down to seal it in - or you'll get a ganache splatterathon. (not that I know this from experience or anything) 12. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top 13. Allow the cookies to continue to "bake" on the cookie sheet for 3 more minutes before removing to a cooling rack. As they cool they will "crater" leaving room for a perfect scoop of vanilla ice cream which I then drizzel with caramel sauce (caramel sauce is available in the caramel sauce aisle at your grocery)
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Glazed Lemon and Fruit Ricotta Cookies

Ingredients Cookies: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 1 stick unsalted butter, softened 2 cups sugar 2 eggs 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese 3 tablespoons lemon juice 1 lemon, zested 1/4 cup of your favorite fruit jelly or preserve
Glaze: 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 3 tablespoons lemon juice 1 lemon, zested Add Checked Items To Grocery ListDirectionsPreheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cookies: In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Put an indentation for the jelly or jam - being careful not to break all the way through the cookie. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the fruit jelly as a jewel center.
Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes. Glaze: Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.
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Bob's Mole Style Stewed Chicken

  • 2 dried Ancho chilies
  • 3 dried New Mexico or Guajillo chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • One 1/2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 tablespoons lard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons raisins
  • 10 whole almonds
  • 2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 3-4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces each (or precut pieces from the grocery, I go boneless, but a lot of people like the extra flavor of bone in)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (for garnish)
  1. In a medium bowl, cover all of the chili peppers with hot water. Let them stand for 30 minutes.
  2. In a large skillet, combine sesame seeds with the anise, cumin, coriander, peppercorns and cinnamon stick. Toast over moderately low heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Allow to cool then grind the seeds and spices to a fine powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
  3. Using the same skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the lard over medium low heat. Stir in the raisins, almonds and cook the mixture until the almonds are toasted and the raisins are plump, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and reserve.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon lard in skillet. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, onions and the spice powder and cook over medium high heat until just simmering, about 7 minutes. Add the drained chilies and the chicken stock, cover partially, and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from the heat. Working in batches, transfer sauce and chocolate to a blender and puree until smooth, if using a standing blender; if using an immersion blender, blend until smooth in skillet. Season to taste with salt and pepper. At this point you can refrigerate the mole for up to 10 days, or freeze.
  5. When you are ready to slow cook - here are the steps:
    1. a 1 pd bag of frozen chicken thighs or breasts in the crockpot
    2. 6 julienned shallots, in the crockpot
    3. 1 16 oz bag UNSALTED cashews in the crockpot
    4. The entire batch of mole sauce over all the ingredients and stir
    5. For extra richness, I add two cups of beef stock. but chicken stock or vegetable stock is more traditional.
    6. Cook on low in the crock pot for 7 hours - leaving on warm till you ready to serve
  6. I like to serve my chicken over butter noodles versus enchiladas or rice. I just like it that way! Traditionally this dish is served over rice or with tortillas.
  7. Cooking in the crockpot - the sauce is a little less thick than if we cooked it in the oven. If the sauce comes out too thin for your taste, you can always scoop out some of the sauce and reduce in a saucepan on the stovetop.
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Meringue cookies are my favorite "holiday potluck" dessert. There is a tidal wave of chocolate and nuts in every bite, and they turn out light and delicate. There is a reason the nickname of these cookies is "Forgotten Kisses" - probably because when you make them - you don't want to share them so they become forgotten. "Oh the potluck was today? oh darn, and I made meringue cookies" LOL! The best part of these is they come together VERY fast - and are absolutely delicious whether you dip them in chocolate or not. I add raspberry extract to mine just for that extra bit of layered flavors. They always turn out perfectly - and you can't really beat these for simplicity.   Ingredients
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2/3 cup superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon raspberry extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or finely chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites until foamy.
  3. Add the cream of tartar and beat until fluffy but not at all dry. (Be careful not to over beat.)
  4. Add the sugar gradually, about 3 tablespoons at a time. When 1/2 of the sugar has been added, add the raspberry extract.
  5. Continue beating and adding remaining sugar in batches, until all of the sugar is dissolved and the meringue is very shiny and tight.
  6. Gently fold in the half of the chocolate chips and half the chopped nuts. Working one teaspoon at a time, push a teaspoonful of meringue from the tip of 1 teaspoon with the back of another teaspoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving 1-inch of space between cookies.
  7. Place baking sheets in the preheated oven and turn the oven off. Leave the cookies (undisturbed) in the oven for at least 2 hours and up to overnight, or until cookies are crisp and dry.
  8. Using a double boiler - or metal bowl over a softly boiling pot of water, melt the rest of the chocolate.
  9. Dip dried meringues in the chocolate then roll them in the leftover walnuts and put on parchment to set.
Yield: about 4 dozen carefully measured cookies. I like mine a bit bigger - so the recipe nets two dozen.
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Seared Chicken and Autumn Vegetables

This dish is bursting with the savory-sweet flavors of autumn. We’re searing chicken thighs and sautéing creamy purple top turnip and tender cabbage. Then we’re finishing them in a light pan sauce—or “jus”—made with dried figs, sharp whole grain mustard, thyme and tart apple cider. The key to beautifully crisp chicken is drying your chicken thoroughly, using a hot pan and letting the skin get browned and crispy before flipping. This way, all of the incredibly flavorful fond (the browned bits) left behind can be used to coat the vegetables and make the delicious pan sauce.  This recipe really takes advantage of the ingredients and with patience, comes out perfect every time. It's one of those frustrating recipes that until you add the cider, mustard and figs, you don't realize what an amazing plate of food you have in front of you. :) I hope you like this one as much as I do.
  • 2 Boneless, Skin-On Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Purple Top Turnip
  • 3 thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/2 Cone Cabbage
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 1 Bunch Thyme
  • 3 Tablespoons Chicken Demi-Glace
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Ounce Dried Figs
  • 1 Tablespoon Whole Grain Djion Mustard
  • ¼ Cup Apple Cider
  • 1/2 cup Craisins
  • 1/4 cup Walnuts, diced
  1. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and medium dice the turnip. Peel and medium dice the onion. Remove and discard the outer leaves of the cabbage; halve, core and medium dice. Pick the thyme leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Small dice the figs.
  2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned chicken, skin sides down. Cook 6 to 8 minutes on the first side, or until the skin is browned and crispy. Flip and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until just cooked through. Transfer to a plate, leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan.
  3. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan of reserved fond; heat on medium-high until hot. Add the turnip and carrots; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until browned and slightly tender.
  4. Add the onion, cabbage and all but a big pinch of the thyme to the pan of turnip; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is slightly wilted.
  5. To the pan of vegetables, add the figs, mustard, demi-glace, apple cider, ⅓ cup of water and cooked chicken (along with any juices from the plate); season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes, or until the liquid is slightly reduced in volume. Add the butter and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined. Remove from heat.
  6. Divide the finished vegetables and chicken between 2 dishes. Garnish with the craisins, walmuts, and remaining thyme.
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Well I'm on my second week of Blue Apron, and this week's grand slam is this slaw. Again, flavors I would have never though to put all together, but it creates a flavorful slaw that is now going in my top ten side dishes list going into the holiday party season. I think for a party side dish I'd add craisins, candied walnuts or pomegranate seeds. But here is the recipe as I made it today:
  • Cup Semi-Pearled Farro
  • 4 Ounces Brussels Sprouts
  • 1 Apple
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Large Bunch Parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Shallot
  • 2 Tablespoons Citrus White Vinegar (or white vinegar of your choice)
  1. Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Once boiling, add the farro. Cook 16 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly.
  2. While the farro cooks, wash and dry the fresh produce. Cut off and discard the stem ends of the Brussels sprouts; then grate them. Zest the lemon, then quarter and deseed the lemon. Peel and mince the shallot to get 2 tablespoons of minced shallot (you may have extra); place in a bowl with the juice of 3 lemon wedges. Pick the parsley leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Core and then grate the entire apple.
  3. In a medium pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the Brussels sprouts, vinegar and lemon zest; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened. Add apples and cook for 1-2 minutes then take off the heat.
  4. Add the mustard to the shallot-lemon juice mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until thoroughly combined.
  5. To the bowl of cooked Brussels sprouts, add the hot cooked farro and the vinaigrette. Stir to thoroughly combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
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20151001_155050So today was my first launch into making a Blue Apron recipe. The first recipe is a spicy turkey and chickpea chili with eggplant, tomato sauce and spices. The recipe had no glitches; and came together really quickly. Right off the bat, the flavor and texture combos were something I would have never thought of  - but that make sense. Crunchy red onion, soft chickpeas, heavily spiced turkey -- with a delicious middle eastern cheese called Labneh - and toasted pita croutons. Not like any chili I've ever had, but oh my gosh! :) Labneh is a rich, creamy cheese made from strained yogurt. ("Laban" is the word for strained, or "Greek," yogurt in Arabic.) Mixed here with lemon juice and salt and pepper, it's absolutely divine! The recipe comes together very quickly and was incredibly flavorful! It is very onion centric - so if someone in your household doesn't like chunks of onion, take 3/4 of the diced onion in a food processor and pulse into a paste. That will keep a strong onion flavor without as much chunks of onion in the recipe. This is a great first impression for me from Blue Apron. The recipe made 6 cups of chili, easily tupperwareable into individual servings. (Yay, Portion Control!) and the toppings and the croutons keep well in tuppers as well. This recipe was a solid win! In the recipe, you'll see the spice blend. In the Blue Apron box is came premade and I just added it, but they are kind enough in the recipe to show the ingredients. However, most stores carry a pre-made "ras el hanout" blend - dried orange peel and Aleppo Pepper are usually available at cooking stores like SurLaTable or WilliamsSonoma; and are fun to have in the pantry to add a hint of something special. Vegetarians: You could VERY easily adapt this with spiced tofu instead of turkey for a splendid meal everyone at your table would enjoy, vegetarian or not. :) Ingredients
  • 10 Ounces Ground Turkey
  • 1 Pocketless Pita
  • Cups Chickpeas
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 3 Tablespoons Labneh Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Turkey Chili Spice Blend (Equal parts: All-Purpose Flour, Ras El Hanout, Cumin, Coriander, Cardamom, Crushed Aleppo Pepper & Dried Orange Peel)
Directions
  1. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Small dice the pita. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Cut off and discard the stem end of the eggplant; small dice. Peel and small dice the onion. Peel and mince the garlic; using the flat side of your knife, smash until it resembles a paste (or use a zester). Using a peeler, remove the yellow rind of the lemon, avoiding the white pith; mince the rind to get 2 teaspoons of zest (or use a zester). Quarter and deseed the lemon. Finely chop the cilantro leaves and stems.
  2. In a large, straight-sided pan (or large pot), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the pita; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned and toasted. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season with salt and pepper. Wipe out the pan.
  3. In the pan used to toast the pita, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the eggplant; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned. Add the ground turkey; season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently breaking the meat apart with a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.
  4. Add the onion, spice blend, tomato paste and ¾ of the garlic paste to the pan of eggplant and turkey; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until fragrant and the onion is softened. Add the chickpeas and 2 cups of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Chermoula & Cheese Topping: While the chili cooks, in a small bowl, combine the labneh cheese and the juice of 1 lemon wedge; season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. In a separate small bowl, combine the cilantro, lemon zest, remaining garlic paste and the juice of the remaining lemon wedges; season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in enough olive oil to create a thick paste.
  6. Divide the finished chili between 2 bowls. Garnish with the pita croutons, chermoula and seasoned labneh cheese. Enjoy!

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Blue Apron

So I joined Blue Apron, after getting a glowing review from my friend Linda. Blue Apron describes itself like this:
Blue Apron makes cooking fun and easy. We'll provide you with all the ingredients that you need to make a delicious meal in exactly the right proportions. http://www.blueapron.com
I tried a neighbors box a few weeks back - and what I liked was the lack of food waste. They literally ship to you EXACTLY what you need to make two portions and now more. I'm constantly having herbs and greens and specialty ingredients go bad. So I'm looking forward to being better at that. I am also excited to try some new things - or ingredients I use prepared in new ways. I get my first box tomorrow. They've been criticized for the sheer amount of packaging they send everything in - but I know I'll reuse all their resealable bags and such - - - and they just sent out an email announcing they are changing all their packaging choices to be able to put in local recycling programs. I'll be posting here about recipes that work, ones that don't - and what I do change them up while I'm cooking. I will also be posting their promotional images along with side by side photos of how the actual recipe looks on the plate by the time I'm done with it. :) Here is this week's selections and the photos provided with each recipe: [gallery link="none" size="medium" ids="1505,1506,1507"]
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(Cooking) Moonblush Tomato Pasta Sauce

sheery

This time of year, when our gardens are overflowing with tomatoes, nothing makes me happier than fresh tomato sauce. It is one of those old fashioned recipes that always delivers. And this overnight in the oven method, makes it easier than ever. The slow roasting renders the entire plum tomato useable in the finished pasta sauce.  The sauce will last in the freezer in small portions, for up to three months. So you can thaw summer fresh tomato taste later in the fall and early winter. Truly - this recipe is both failsafe and always delicious. 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (about 24) of cherry or other baby tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Cut the tomatoes in half and sit them out cut side up in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the salt, sugar, thyme and olive oil. Put them in the oven, bake at 500 for 15 minutes, monitoring carefully - - then turn it off. Leave the tomatoes in the oven overnight or for an eight hour day without opening the door. Transfer the tomatoes to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully heat over medium heat - and serve with hot pasta.

This sauce freezes spectacularly - and I enjoy popping out a pack of it in the middle of winter for a gorgeous taste of summer. 

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